Care for Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) and health benefits

Know in one minute about Care for Fiddle leaf fig

  • Fiddle leaf fig is a beautiful, evergreen plant that can grow indoor as well as outdoor.
  • It removes air pollutants and purifies the air.
  • Grows well-drained loamy soil with plenty of light and warm humidity.
  • Water only when the top few inches of soil are dry.
  • Fertilize the plant about once a month to obtain the best growth.
  • Pruning is necessary to maintain their size, encourage branching and grow more quickly.
  • Easy to propagate using stem cuttings or by a leaf.
  • Toxic to animals.

Introduction

The fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) plant is a flowering plant in the fig/mulberry family, Moraceae. It is the most beautiful plant that looks like an umbrella due to its semi-lobed, oval-shaped, glossy,  and dense leaves. The name fiddle given to this plant comes from its kind of fiddle (or violin) like leaves and delicate veins. 

Common name

Bush plants, banjo fig

Geographical distribution

In the wild, these plants come from tropical rain forests west and central Africa. This plant is widely grown as a decorative species in Europe, Indonesia, and North America (1).

Botanical description

1. Height

This fiddle leaf fig can grow up to 15 to 30 feet outdoors and 9 to 10 feet indoors. It is a slow-growing plant, so you can easily grow this plant indoors with little maintenance. They can be pinched out the tip or give notching to prevent them from growing taller. After 3 or 4 years of growth, it starts to become an attractive tree. 

2. Leaves and stem

Fiddle leaf fig produces bright, fleshy, and heavily veined green leaves that grow upright. It is 8 to 15-inch-long and 10-inch-wide leaves that are quite attractive. The stem grows preferably 6 inches or more long, which makes the plant a bushy tree type (2).

3. Flower and Fruits

The fruits, solitary fleshy, usually peer shaped, variable in size and color (3). In the wild this plant produces flowers and then fruits; however, it does not bloom or fruit indoors (4)

Fiddle leaf fig care 

Common problems with this plant are losing its leaves or turning brown and unattractive. It is mainly due to inappropriate light, water, soil, and fertilizer. Although this plant care is not easy for beginners but no need for an expert so most growers will be fine.

1. Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperatures required for healthy growth is 60°F-75°F (15°C-24°C). Fiddle leaf fig plants grow well in warm and humid conditions so you can regulate humidity levels by the humidifier. 

2. Light

This plant needs plenty of bright ambient light or a few hours (3-4 hrs/day) of direct sunlight. Since excess sunlight may burn the leaves and dim light will rapidly deteriorate the plant. Remember to wipe the leaves once a week to keep them dust-free and look glossy. Fiddle leaf fig leans towards the light source, so it is best to rotate it for even growth.

3. Water

Fiddle leaf fig requires water when the top few inches of soil are dry and reduce watering in the winter. Water thoroughly, then allows the soil to dry slightly between watering.

This plant doesn’t like too much or too little water, because overwater may cause brown or yellow leaves and root rot.  On the other hand, underwater may cause the top leaves to turn brown and drop. So regular checking of soggy soil or too dry soil is necessary.

4. Fertilizer

Fertilize about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Suspend fertilizing during the dormant winter period.

5. Repotting

This plant is likely to be a little pot bound so only needs to replace the topsoil each year. However, the repotting of young plants should be done every spring.

Besides, it should be done when their roots start peaking out of the bottom. Remember to move the plant into a pot one 2 to 3 inches larger.

6. Soil

Well-drained loamy soil is best, to avoid root rot of these plants.

7. Pruning

Prune the fiddle leaf fig plants necessary to maintain their size, remove old leaves, encourage branching and grow more quickly. 

8. Planting

The planter should support the watering and contain sufficient drainage holes to let water out. 

Fiddle leaf fig propagation

The fiddle fig plants can be easily propagated using stem cuttings or by a leaf. Place them in a container with water or soil for weeks for the roots to grow out.

Growing season

The best time of the year to propagate this plant is in the spring. 

Propagation by stem cutting

Choose the stem that is usually about six to eight inches long with at least some internodes and 1-3 leaves. Then cuttings can be rooted in either rooting hormone or water or soil or stick in a sunny spot. Wait and watch for roots to grow out at 4 to 6 weeks. Pot your cutting when the roots are a few inches long.

Propagation by leaf

Take the bottom portion of the leaf with vein and place it in water or soil to allow it to grow new roots. 

Health benefits of fiddle leaf fig

Fiddle leaf fig fruit, root, and leaves can be used to treat gastrointestinal disorders (colic, indigestion, loss of appetite, and diarrhea).

It is also used to treat respiratory (sore throats, coughs, and bronchial problems), inflammatory and cardiovascular disorders. Some of its benefits are.

1. Air purifier

Fiddle leaf fig plants can absorb water-soluble harmful pollutants containing lead and PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

PAH has the ability to cause cancer, while lead is allegedly able to reduce IQ levels of children up to 5 (five) years (5).

2. Antimicrobial properties

This plant contains polyphenols, tannin, flavonoids, and triterpenoids (6). These compounds fight against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella dysenteriae Shigella boydii, Citrobacter freundii, Proteus vulgaris, Proteus mirabilis, and Klebsiella bacteria (7). They also inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhi, and Candida albicans (8).

3. Useful as a food preservative

The fruit and leaf of fiddle leaf fig are rich in bioactive compounds, especially phenolic compounds,  flavonoids,  triterpenoids,  and tannins. Thus it acts as a natural preservative in meat and other food (9).

4. Protect liver and lower cholesterol level

Fiddle leaf fig is a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids and phenols. These antioxidants treat liver fibrosis (accumulation of cells and collagen in the liver) and lower cholesterol levels (10).

5. Diuretic and treat central nervous system disorder

Chromone, flavonoids, and β-sitosterol found in fiddle leaf fig can slow brain activity. It is useful for treating anxiety, panic, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders. 

Moreover, it also increases the output of excess fluid, mainly water and sodium, by urine.  Thus this plant prevents kidney stone formation (11).

Fiddle leaf fig toxic to cats or dogs 

Fiddle leaf fig contains toxic compounds that may cause stomach irritation to cats, dogs, and horses. 

Q&A

1. How to care for a fiddle leaf fig?

Fiddle leaf figs need little effort like a few hours of direct sunlight and well-drained loamy soil. They also need moderate amounts of water when the top inches of the soil are dry. It requires fertilizer during the growing season, pruning, and warm humid conditions.

2. How to care for fiddle leaf fig?

This plant needs plenty of bright light, well-drained soil, and water only when the top inches of the soil are dry. They also need fertilizer during the growing season,  pruning to control its size and encourage branching. 

3. How to take care of a fiddle leaf fig?

Fiddle leaf fig prefers warm, humid climates, a lot of bright light, and well-drained loamy soil. This plant requires a moderate amount of water, fertilizer during the growing season, and pruning to control its size. 

4. How to care for fiddle leaf fig tree?

Fiddle leaf fig plant care is not easy for beginners but no need for an expert so most growers will be fine. It needs a few hours of direct sunlight and water in moderate amounts when the soil is dry and well-drained soil. Fertilize the plant during the growing season and pruning should be done to encourage branching and control its size. 

5. How to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree?

Fiddle leaf figs need direct sunlight for a few hours (3–4 hrs/day) and warm humid conditions. It also requires moderate amounts of water, well-drained soil, and water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Pruning is also necessary to maintain their size, encourage branching and grow more quickly. 

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